Tuesday 20th September, 2022

Distance ridden 176 kilometres

Of course, I got up and took an early walk around the Chemnitz Old Town centre. It is the classic German mixture of ancient and modern. There was a statue – high up on a pole.

There are some quite nice parts and the Town Hall, as noted previously, is obviously of great age.

There are a lot of new buildings too, some very new, but also vestiges of communist era architecture. Chemnitz was, after all, in East Germany. Those parts, sadly, had looked better in the darkness and rain of the previous evening. There was also a Harley-Davidson dealership, very close to our hotel which bore all the hallmarks of being a recent addition. Sadly, it was protected by a high fence so I was unable to get near enough to examine it closely.

It was far from being warm so I did not hang around outside for long. I went back to our hotel where I got Lucie her coffee from a machine in the lobby. Only when I had paid for it did I discover that, around the corner, breakfast had started and I could have grabbed a free one !

We were keen to be on our way while it was dry, because yet more rain was forecast. We took what was, for Lucie at least, an early breakfast. There was a really good selection on offer which I considered excellent in an establishment with such a “budget” ethos. That was just one of the reasons I really liked the B&B hotel, the friendly staff, the comfortable room and a strong accent of sustainability all added to that. We will definitely look for them when travelling in the future. I know there is one in Budapest and I recently noticed one in Prague, but the latter, of course, does not help US much !

We set off home, by the shortest route, which headed straight to the Czech border and avoided the longer Autobahn trek up to Dresden. The first seventy kilometre leg wound gently, on good roads, through the Erzbirge (Ore Mountains) on route 174 to the border. I do not know what kind of ore it is, but it seemed a prosperous area, the houses we could see were cutesy and well maintained. At one point, amid so much careful and sensible driving a car attached itself to my rear light. The road was winding, undulating and only two lanes – and there were three lorries in front of me. No way was I going to do anything but hold my place. After quite a distance, because I WAS a sensible distance from the lorry in front, I saw that we were approaching a red light and gently closed the throttle. This widened the gap between the lorry and me to about twenty five metres and, before I could blink, the car behind overtook, shot into the gap and, of course, because the lorry was by then braking, slammed on his brakes – so I had to follow suit and quite sharply too. That was the first serious braking I had needed to do in over three and a half thousand kilometres and, needless to say, that moron was a Czech driver ! As well as braking, I had swung a little wide, just in case, so we rolled down the outside of the three lorries, arrived just as the light went amber and a tiny whiff of throttle put us back on our route, with nothing in front of us. As Homer Simpson would say “So long, sucker !” On a warmer, sunnier, day, on such a lovely road, it would have been a really pleasant ride to the border. Even on such a drab morning, the scenery did have a certain beauty to it and a short diversion, through the ancient town of Marienburg, did nothing to detract from that.

We crossed back into the Czech Republic at the Zchopau crossing and apart from the road becoming route 7, nothing much changed at first. We approached the town of Chomutov. From the road, we were able to clearly see the results of “results at any cost” working practices of the former, communist regime. Open cast mining and a casual disdain for nature created a wasteland which, well over thirty years after the regime was ousted, still looks grim. It is greener now, but only because some hardy plants have somehow gained a foothold there, but it still looks uncompromisingly desolate. There are plans to create a natural park and leisure facilities there with lakes and such, which will also bring much needed employment – but it has been a long time coming.

Route four is in the process of becoming the D4, D being for Dálnice, the Czech designation for motorway. For this reason we encountered yet more roadworks. For long stretches, construction had rendered the way a single and usually poorly surfaced track and this would then morph into a nice new four-lane motorway and then back to a track. Going was slow, faster and then slow again. Because of the homicidal driving this led to, it was a tiny bit nerve wracking. It was fairly cold, but at least it stayed dry. After just one break for coffee (they had no hot chocolate for me) we finally came to the outskirts of Prague and wended our way through the streets to our home. By noon we were unpacking the Harley and already thinking of a second and more leisurely trip to the same area next year …